The Chaos Flail
If order is the sword, then as the symbol of chaos stands the flail.
As a man of action, I understand the importance of maintaining a degree of discipline and a relatively staunch control over my actions, the Apollonian side of my nature. I am sure most reading this already have a solid understanding of the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy in regards to human behaviours, of the balance between the forces of order and disorder (Read “The New Way” by Ioan Eofor for excellent views on this).
For this thought piece I’m going to choose to focus on the latter. Chaos is an interesting thing. Chaos is the raging hurricane, it’s the tornado across the plains, it’s the bull in a fit of rage goring any unlucky enough to stand in its way. At the same time, I would argue it’s not only beneficial in controlled circumstances, but essential.
The sword stands true as a powerful symbol of order. The blade glistens as it points to the sky. Its inspiring presence is immediately recognizable as one of virility, of vigor. Its counterpart I will liken as the flail. The flail is a weapon as frightening as it is chaotic. It’s an absurd weapon, one that despite it’s intimidating aura was grossly impractical. The weapon is more entertaining fiction than anything and was rarely, if ever, used in actual combat historically. For that very reason however, I’m choosing it to represent chaos in a purely symbolic sense, so I implore you to keep that point in mind for the duration of this article. The morning star twirling around one’s head, the rattling of the chain. Its strike is devastating, for either the target or the wielder. Therein lies the nature of chaos. It is unpredictable, dangerous, and at its core absurd and almost comical in the sense of the damage it can inflict. At the same time, It invigorates, it sharpens the senses, it makes us feel alive.
Where chaos becomes what I would consider to be detrimental is when it gains complete control over order. In human beings this manifests in a number of ways. Mental illness, violent abuse, addiction. The alcoholic man has completely caved to the forces of chaos. His Dionysian side now embodies his entire being as he descends further into disorder with every swig from the bottle. Chaos is rampant not just in our human microcosm, but in the world around us. Storms rage across the oceans, wildfires burn and blot out the sky with their smoke, and earthquakes shake and crumble that which our civilization has worked so hard to construct.
Chaos is necessary. It is the second half of the whole, and must be respected and understood. It can consume an individual, destroy them if poorly understood, or uplift them if it is effectively controlled. If you are to take an average person, and put a flail in their hands, and tell them to use it effectively there’s a good chance you’ll be making a mistake. There’s a good chance they will end up caving in their own skull before they even have a chance to hit the target. They must train themselves in the technique to swing it properly, armour themselves sufficiently as to avoid injury. Even so, the risk of the flail, due its very nature, is great. Someone who has trained with such an instrument is still at risk. No matter how adept you may think you are with this infernal device, you still run the risk of taking yourself out simply by using it. With the rattling of the chain as it twirls in air like an iron beacon of destruction it exudes the essence of chaos. As a force of disorder and destruction, it can be harnessed and used by a competent wielder to powerful effect.
The wielding of the flail stands as the metaphor to us as individuals embracing the chaotic sides of ourselves, using it to uplift ourselves to greater levels without allowing it to consume us. Giving in to the chaos of your anger will result in damage to not only yourself, but those around you. However, by using it, harnessing it and learning to direct it in such a way that it becomes a motivating force, It gives you a reason to change things, a reason to improve an area of yourself that may be lagging behind. You wield the flail in times of grief, where you are overtaken with sadness, and rather than simply giving up and resorting to either a bottle or various other empty pleasures, you swing it around your head and use it to inspire yourself. To make yourself realize that it is your duty to keep swinging it to honour those that came before you.
The Sword and the Flail. The duality of both weapons and their symbolism are icons of what us individuals along the good path hold close. Our discipline, our control, our tempered steel is in balance with the cumbersome, challenging destructive force of the morning star. But approach with caution. When swinging the chaos flail, you must take care. You must take the time and the initiative to understand both its potential for growth, and for self destruction.
Keep your chaotic nature in check. Learn how it benefits you, and where its potential to destroy you lies, and learn to redirect its force into one of growth and betterment.
Raise your flail arm, may your star strike true.